Monday, February 26, 2024 

We don't need another "transformation" of the Joker

IGN is gushing all over Chip Zdarsky's new Joker: Year One, yet another example of too much focus on villains in entertainment:
How does an ordinary man become the scourge of Gotham City? That's a question writer Chip Zdarsky and artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Sorrentino set out to answer in The Joker: Year One. This storyline flashes back to just after the newly reborn Joker emerged from the pit of acid, exploring his earliest days as a costumed supervillain and how he was molded into the inhuman force of nature he is today.

Needless to say, The Joker: Year One has revealed some surprising new details about this iconic villain's origin. That includes the twist that he was trained by one of Batman's own mentors and a major retcon of the Three Jokers storyline. Now that this story has wrapped, let's break down the three biggest reveals and how this flashback storyline will impact the Batman franchise going forward.
Wow, that continuing lapse in logic about "revealed" rather than "established/canonized" is so grating it's not even funny. Nor is the "twist" that Batman had a mentor who trained the man who'd become his leading adversary. That aside, here's their boring description of a storyline that only turns the Masked Manhunter's history into a sick joke:
Joker's Secret Mentor

The Joker: Year One isn't an origin story in the sense that it doesn't offer a new retelling of how Joker originally fell into that vat of acid. Instead, the story serves as a follow-up to both 1986's Batman: The Killing Joke and 2013's Batman: Zero Year. It specifically covers the weeks immediately after Joker emerges from the waters outside Ace Chemical.

However, the biggest takeaway from this storyline is that Joker didn't claw his way out as a fully formed villain. He still had a long, painful process of evolution to undergo before becoming the Clown Prince of Crime. That's where Daniel Captio comes in.

Captio is a character introduced in writer Chip Zdarsky's previous Batman project, The Knight. The Knight traces Bruce Wayne's journey across the world as he seeks out teachers to help mold him into a one-man, crime-fighting army. Captio is one of those teachers, a mentalist with absolute control over his bodily functions. Captio teaches Bruce how to ignore pain and suppress fear, treating his body like a machine where these sensations can simply be switched off.

Unfortunately for Bruce, Captio now harbors a grudge against him for the way their partnership ended in Batman: The Knight. Hearing rumors about the Joker's emergence, Captio travels to the city and offers his services to the budding supervillain. Captio teaches Joker how to completely master his inner fears and block out pain. Sensing the raw potential in Joker, Captio molds him into a deadly, unpredictable fighter capable of going toe-to-toe with the Batman. More than ever, it's clear how Batman and Joker are two sides of the same coin.
If this were a TV show, what really needs to be switched off is the viewing set. So Batman had a so-called mentor who later turned against him? Insulting to the intellect, and makes it look more like Batman chose a criminal for trainer. Some of the commentors seem to realize why this is just more cliched badness, and one said:
I love Zdarsky, but I hate his Batman run. It was totally influnced by Morrison, and I really don't like THAT in any way other than Damian.
Well, Grant Morrison, if that's whom they're talking about, was a bad influence to begin with in the past decades. Somebody else replied:
Just said that! Hate the focus on Zur-En-Arrh.
And here's another:
I hate comics eternal need to explore the origins of characters whose mystery is part of their character. Its like Wolverine....when they did weapon x as a comic series in MCP it was great, because it ends ambigiously, and the revelations that wolverines adamantium bonding process was so scarring mentally that his memories were so screwed up even telepaths couldnt figure it out. It left you constantly guessing about what in his memory was real or not. Explaining it all away...great. Take the mystery out of characters. That will make them better. On the otherhand...this is DC. They will just wipe their continuity in a few more years. They do it every 10 to 15 years as is.
I'm sure there's a valid argument to be found here, that removing the mystery from some characters does dilute the value. But what's really disturbing is how we have here another variation on Hollywood's chilling obsession with glamorizing violent criminals. Here's another viewpoint:
Why would Joker have a mentor? That ruins the whole character. The basis revolves around the fact he's a unhinged psycho. You cant mentor a crazy person. Thats sort of what makes him a great villain, hes really unpredictable.
Good point. Here's another observation:
I read comic books regularly from the late 1980s when my grandfather introduced them to me as a young kid until 2012'ish.

When DC rebooted their entire line in 2011 they completely ruined the entire product line. They have never come even close to the quality that was before, and now it is as if they are trying to destroy the characters in the same style of Kathleen Kennedy to Star Wars.

I wanted to introduce my kids to modern comics but I refused to. I let them read all of my collection that goes from 1970s through 2010s and then that is it. I told them that DC Comics ended in 2012.
It ended at least several years before that, when Identity Crisis and Marvel's Avengers: Disassembled came about. And they will not recover under a corporate ownership. That's practically why a story as lethargic as Joker: Year One came about. Of course, it's also because too many people still waste money on DC/Marvel's products. And only if they boycott comics like these will they be able to make clear this is not what they want. So when will anybody appalled by these idiocies consider the alternatives?

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Sunday, February 25, 2024 

Ramona Fradon dead at 97

The Wrap reported that veteran artist Ramona Fradon, who co-created Metamorpho in the Silver Age, has died at 97 years of age:
Ramona Fradon, a comics artist for more than 70 years, has died at 97. She retired just last month. Fradon’s death was shared by Catskill Comics, a comic book art dealer, on Facebook.

She began her career in 1950, beginning to work for DC Comics early on. She’s best known as an artist on “Aquaman” and cocreator of the superhero Metamorpho, set to be played by “Barry” actor Anthony Carrigan in James Gunn’s forthcoming “Superman: Legacy” next year.
Well, there's another talented artist of her time - and a woman whose legacy is unlikely to be acknowledged or appreciated by modern wokists - who's now gone from this world. Also sad is that these new live action movies are unlikely to do justice for her creations. Exactly why it's better to read and recommend the much older stories from when she originally began.

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Even comics movies now suffer from diversity hires lacking merit

Daniel Greenfield at Front Page tells how older TV series and films are faring better with modern audiences than brand new productions of the past decade from Hollywood that were staffed by DEI hires, and points to at least 2 recent comics adaptations that suffered because of the overt focus on diversity lacking talent and merit:
Disney has lost a fortune on movies staffed by inexperienced DEI hires. “The Marvels”, its first comic book universe movie that didn’t even hit $100 million (amounting to likely losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars) was written and directed by Nia DaCosta, hailed as the first black woman to direct a superhero film, with one previous low budget horror film to her name. Her fellow writers had little more than a few episodes of Disney+ Marvel shows under their belts.

“Madame Web”, a recent effort to launch a Spider Man movie franchise without Spider Man, performed even worse for Sony. The movie was helmed by a TV director based on a screenplay originally written by an otherwise mostly unknown minority writer/director, and crashed badly.

The decline of animation quality at Disney has been chronicled in features like Film Threat’s D-Files which put it down to an urgent need to hire new diverse staff while purging the “old white guys” The new diverse hires “understood very little about actual animation and bringing art to life”, and “struggled to succeed at a job they weren’t qualified to have in the first place”. Their ineptitude was blamed on an intolerant workplace and the veterans were forced out.
To do animation right, you need to study hard at the art, and not just illustration, but also the scriptwriting. And these diversity hires were only brought in out of desperation to prove something entirely unnecessary. Even though they had very little to their resume to guarantee they had talent to take on a serious blockbuster. No wonder these films and cartoons are tanking so horribly.

This reminds of a time several years ago, when Dan DiDio was still publisher of DC, it was told the audience preferred a lot of older stories over the newer ones he'd produced. And that figures. He made the DCU so insufferable, and it was said he'd told in interviews he didn't think superheroes should have happy lives. That kind of mandate was exactly what brought down the DCU in many ways, and it's still suffering badly as a result. Some of what DiDio turned out seemed to have served as a template for movie screenwriters to go by, and we've seen the results in the years since, with many consecutive film adaptations faring worse at the box office than the previous ones. Now, even Marvel's experiencing much of the same with their movies, which, similar to several DC movies and TV shows, now also share wokeism in their screenplays. And it doesn't look likely to change in the future. Nor for that matter can we expect the upcoming DC films overseen by the pretentious director James Gunn to fare any better. When can we finally get back to dramas and romantic comedies?

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Saturday, February 24, 2024 

After retconning Mystique and Destiny's backgrounds, now Marvel's putting them in a lesbian wedding for pride month

Superhero Hype is fluff-coating news of Marvel's now predictable participation in pride month, with Destiny and Mystique the spotlight of a lesbian wedding, this after they were both recently retconned into Nightcrawler's parents for the sake of cheap wokeism:
Marvel Comics has announced a brand-new X-Men wedding special celebrating the love between Mystique and Destiny.

Per Marvel, X-Men: The Wedding Special #1 arrives in comic shops late this coming May — just in time for the start of Pride Month in June. The mutant-centric one-shot acts as this year’s Marvel’s Voices: Pride anthology, featuring stories from such writers as Kieron Gillen, Tini Howard, Tate Brombal, and Wyatt Kennedy. Jan Bazaldua provides the main cover artwork. Marvel will announce the book’s interior artists at a later date.

[...] The aforementioned Gillen — a longtime architect of Marvel‘s X-Men line — will handle Destiny and Mystique’s nuptials. “They’ve been through hell, mainly at my pen. Finally, giving these two a happy day? How can I say no,” the writer said.
Well they're right about one thing - as an "architect", Gillen is one of the worst things that could've befallen Marvel in over a decade, recalling he was the writer who retconned Tony Stark's parents from biological to adoptive. With those kind of awful scribes on board, that alone is reason enough to avoid this newest cheap sensationalism, which also builds on the premise of both Mystique and Destiny being Nightcrawler's parents. A real waste of paper they have going here, and nobody should throw away money on this any more than the wedding of Northstar to a homosexual boyfriend of his from the past decade.

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Friday, February 23, 2024 

More about a collector who considers non-superhero classics valuable

The Wilmington Town Crier interviewed a local collector who was mentioned in this previous news item, who's fond of storing Golden Age classics, including comics that aren't superhero fare:
Philip Cole’s comic book collection is so famous that it has its own name: the PACole Collection — more than 1,000 graded books that have been admired, and coveted, by fellow collectors for decades.

They’ll have a shot at owning some of these prized books when ComicConnect hosts the debut of the PACole Collection as part of its Event Auction 57, starting Feb. 26.

One part of Cole’s collection, though, is not likely to bring as much attention as the others. Still, it’s “near and dear to my heart,” as he puts it: Richie Rich. It’s where his love of comic books began as a kid growing up in Dunkirk, New York, a town about an hour south of Buffalo on the shores of Lake Erie.

“In the collection is the first comic I ever bought — Richie Rich,” said Cole, 61, who lives in Wilmington, a suburb of Boston. “I was maybe 9 or 10. I remember taking my allowance and paper route money and swinging around every week to the four newsstands in my hometown. They knew me. They would hold the new comics behind the counter until I could get there.”

He would also sneak peeks at the comics kept in the attic by his brother, who was 10 years older. One of them was a Golden Age DC title, Sugar and Spike, featuring the misadventures of two toddlers who communicate via “baby talk” with each other and to other infants, but not to adults.
On that note, there's a number of comics from both DC and Marvel's Golden Age resume that possibly haven't been reprinted yet, simply because they're not superhero fare, and that must be their justification for letting them all gather dust in the warehouses. Well that's not right, and as somebody who's lamented how the speculator market takes up far more attention than the archiving and reprinting industry, I find it appalling if the Big 2 let anything languish in obscurity simply because it doesn't fit a narrative. Which could also apply to some of their superhero fare of the time too, if it hasn't been reprinted yet (much of the Golden Age Hawkman hasn't beyond about 20 stories or so, or has long gone out of print in archives). Interesting the paper says the Richie Rich comics aren't as likely to draw much attention, considering a short time ago, they were appearing on the market. Guess they haven't paid much attention themselves.

And while I think it's admirable Mr. Cole read humor comics that weren't superhero fare in his youth, not only is it sad if he's only collecting for the sake of the speculator market, it's got to be telling if now, he's auctioning it off to more people who'll continue to keep in vaulted away and never read by anyone else. Again, what good is all this profiteering doing the industry? Hardly any. A really serious specialist would be campaigning for reprint archives of all sorts of golden oldies, superhero or otherwise. And from what I can tell, we still have a long way to go before that goal is reached.

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Thursday, February 22, 2024 

Gannett-owned paper fawns over horror artist

The Fremont News Messenger, which is owned by the Gannett news syndicate, published a puff piece about an artist who's into the horror genre, as though we hadn't heard all that before:
Brian Level, a 2000 Clyde High School graduate who got in trouble drawing unflattering cartoons of his teachers is now making a living with his art work.

"I had nothing against my teachers, I just wanted to entertain my friends," Level said. He has had his own tattoo studio Iluminaut, in Ludlow, Kentucky since 2003, often using his original drawings when a client explains what he or she wants.

In addition to being a tattoo artist, he is a writer and horror cartoonist — drawing covers and illustrations for comic books published by Marvel Comics, DC Comics and others. Some of his work has been in Star Wars, Batman, Spider-Man, Avengers, Flash, Lucifer, Deadpool and more. He said he got into comic book illustrating through the "back door."

In 2010 an Internet friend, associated with the TV show "Walking Dead," saw his drawings and thought they were of professional quality, which led to his first assignment as a "ghost" inker for a comic book project. That led to other things, attending comic book conventions and Comic-Con to display his artwork. 2020 he began carving out time to draw his own creations. His genre is horror and he has co-created and published two graphic novels, "Silk Hills", co-written with Ryan Terrier with art by Kate Sherron, available in hardcover or digital and "Chained to the Grave," co-written with Andy Eschenbach with art by Sherron. He is working on a third. [...]
Wow, so he's into the horror genre theme, as noted before, and even hung out with folks involved with other horror-themed items like Walking Dead. What's so special about this, that the comedy genre doesn't have, and has practically been marginalized for over the past decade by contrast? That he's a tattoo artist is decidedly also appalling, because such ideas can harm the skin and cause infections. It's honestly a disgrace how they've become such a "thing" over past decades, stemming from punk subculture in modern times. There may not be an actual connection between horror and tattoos, but I do find both unappealing, and the former has certainly become overabundant of recent.

Good luck to Mr. Level on his projects. But it's regrettable how these modern artists continue to obsess over something as unhelpful as the horror genre. We could honestly do with far less of it. Certainly if what's being turned out today has nothing to make the reader think, and nothing intelligable to offer.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024 

What could've once been Wolverine's best year no longer is

Forbes says it's the 50th year to the time Wolverine was first introduced in the Marvel universe (in the pages of the Hulk):
The hype machine behind the third Deadpool installment, featuring Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine for the first time since 2017’s Logan, justifiably reached new heights with the film’s Super Bowl spot on Feb. 11. During the ad, running near the beginning of the big game, we learned the official title of the July 26 release is Deadpool & Wolverine.

It’s fitting that the most highly-anticipated movie featuring the character would release the year of the 50th anniversary of him being created by Roy Thomas, John Romita Sr., and Len Wein. [...]

Marvel Comics will be releasing a 3-part comic book series titled Deadpool & Wolverine: WWIII available May 1 in conjunction with the film.

Marvel followed up the Deadpool & Wolverine Super Bowl frenzy by releasing the trailer and March 20 release date for the long-awaited continuation of the early 90’s Marvel gateway drug for millennials, X-Men: The Animated Series, titled X-Men ‘97 (Diseny+) a few days later. Many of the same voice actors from the original series are returning, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine. [...]

Also in celebration of Marvel’s 50th anniversary celebration of Logan, fan-favorite Wolverine and X-Men writer Chris Claremont is returning for Madripoor Knights #1, hitting shelves Feb. 7 with four subsequent issues to follow. The run piggybacks off of the acclaimed storyline from X-Men #268, written by Claremont, that features a team of Wolverine, Black Widow, and Captain America.
Alas, it's no more a time for celebration than for any of these other onetime icons, based on how Marvel succumbed to wokeness in the early 2000s, and desecrated Capt. America for starters. And Wolverine's been just as much a casualty of wokeism to boot. A number of years ago, Marvel's editors even saw fit to put Logan temporarily in the grave, clearly just for the sake of sales.

Also note how this puff piece promotes X-Men 97, which, as noted before, is going the woke route, turning the Morph character into a "non-binary" identifier. How can Wolverine be celebrated when a direction that atrocious is being emphasized? All it does it take away from whatever significance this new cartoon continuation might've once offered, and no longer does. And that's why, sadly enough, there's nothing to celebrate on the 50th year of Logan's creation.

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Monday, February 19, 2024 

New take on 90s X-Men cartoon changes Morph to non-binary

Western Journal reveals that, in a glaring example of how modern leftist ideologues absolutely refuse to leave their petty politics at the door, a new take on X-Men 97 depicts the male character called Morph as non-binary:
...according to a new article from Empire Magazine, Disney’s progressive messaging has managed to taint yet another fan-favorite property. That property is none other than “X-Men ’97” the reboot of the incredibly popular 1990’s cartoon “X-Men: The Animated Series.”

An upcoming issue of Empire Magazine shows that the character of Morph, previously referred to as male in the original series (and in the comic book source material), will be “nonbinary” in Disney’s revival. [...]

This news was previously confirmed by “X-Men ’97” showrunner Beau DeMayo, who referred to the character using “they/them” pronouns in a clip now circulating on social media.

“Morph decided to show a little bit of a different side to themselves this season,” DeMayo said in the clip.
It's far from a shock at this point. Now, another product from a bygone era has been tarnished with an unworthy successor, and the comics, lest we forget, have long been tainted too by what followed after, since the turn of the century. So it's not just Disney animation proper that's become a drainpipe for this illogical propaganda pandering, but also Marvel animation. We've certainly come a long way from the time when the earliest Marvel cartoons were produced, and again, the comics too.

This is one Marvel cartoon adaptation purists should definitely switch off their sets over, rather than give it any satisfying Neilsen ratings.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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